President Park Geun-hye on Thursday visited the scene of a ferry disaster off the southwest coast and called for a thorough investigation of the cause of the accident.
"We will look thoroughly into this unbelievable incident, determine the exact cause and sternly punish those responsible," she said.
Park went to an indoor gymnasium in Jindo, South Jeolla Province where the families of the victims are gathered. "The government will spare no effort to support the families," she told them.
The families complained to the president about what they saw as botched efforts to rescue possible survivors, and some shouted insults.
Park reminded rescue workers at the scene that every second counts in the search for survivors.